Judah | In Home Newborn

 

The day after Judah was home I invited myself over for a little in-home session to get some photos of the sweet trio (+ kitty) in the comfort of their home. My sister is a NICU nurse and she tells me stories a lot about NICU families, and I can imagine while you’re super thankful for the awesome care your baby is getting (and the support you’re getting from nurses!) you also just wish you were at home having that normal newborn eat-play-poop-sleep-poop-eat-repeat routine. I loved seeing Judah’s sweet nursery and chatting with Serena and Lathan about life and ministry and how they ended up in North Carolina (and are now in California!). They are such a strong couple and honestly are total naturals at the parenting thing. I cannot get enough of newborn sessions, guys. Their rolls, squishy cheeks, funny faces and noises. Their crazy dinosaur hands and the yawns. THE YAWNS. This guy was especially chubby and wonderful.

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Oh Serena and Lathan — thank you for having me and while I’m sad our time together was short, I’ll carry your friendship with me always. Cheering you on from NC!

Our Skincare Favorites for the Littlest Ones

Just an FYI if you decide to buy, this post contains affiliate links and I will get a small percentage from your purchase.
Your shopping helps keep my little blog afloat and I’m so thankful! 
  1. Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Creme // Target // Amazon
  2. Honest Company Organic Healing Balm // Target // Amazon
  3. Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Skin Lotion // Beautycounter
  4. Beautycounter Baby Daily Protective Balm // Beautycounter
  5. Beautycounter Calming Diaper Rash Cream // Beautycounter
  6. Honest Company Diaper Rash Cream // Target // Amazon

Four years and lots of trial and error later, we’ve got a great arsenal of products that we love for our littles and love to recommend! We probably have about a year left of diaper life (seriously, that went by fast) so the diaper cream won’t hang with us much longer, but the others are here to stay. Both of my kids have eczema like me, but have been totally clear for about a year with a few small patches here or there. It is a lot easier to maintain a healthy skin barrier than treat an already broken one with eczema, so I always recommend keeping that in mind when developing your kids’ skincare rhythm. Maintaining skin barrier is the goal!

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  1. Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Creme // Target // Amazon This creme is super thick, goes on easily and doesn’t leave a greasy feel. We use it all over on the kiddos after bath time and twice a day in the winter when the temps are cold and cheeks are chapped, or after pool days when skin is dry after being in the pool water. This creme gets a 5 on the Think Dirty scale, 3/21 ingredients are considered “half n’ half” which show up in studies from 1999 has having potential “toxicity” or are known to be potential eye irritants.
  2. Honest Company Organic Healing Balm // Target // Amazon I got this when Lincoln was a newborn and had a really terrible diaper rash from Pampers diapers. I tried all the regular zinc creams and even a prescription cream from our ped, and this cleared it up within 24 hours. I was a believer immediately! We actually ended up switching to Honest diapers after that for a long time to keep his bottom clear, but this place earned a permanent place in my diaper bag (purse) and in each kid’s room. Cuts, scrapes, hangnails, pimples, etc. — it’s basically the Greek Man’s Windex. Some people have told me they had success with it treating their eczema but I did not have that luck, sadly. I still love it anyway. IMG_0040
  3. Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Skin Lotion // Beautycounter Once you’ve tried something from the Countermatch line you just keep trying more from the Countermatch line. When I became a consultant I got a free giant bottle of this moisturizer that I love, so I just stuck it in the kids’ bathroom for hands before bedtime, etc. It became our go to for warmer weather moisturizer. It’s lightweight, not greasy, and totally smells delicious. I’m always very cautious when introducing a new product, even a “safe” one, to my kids and their skin love this. Definitely keeping it on the kids’ shelf! Their hands are little so it’ll last forever. My eczema is significantly better on my hands since being on Dupixent, but this stuff brings life back to my hands within minutes if I’ve overdone water exposure. You can read about the Countermatch technology above– it’s truly amazing. LRG_DSC09840
  4. Beautycounter Baby Daily Protective Balm // Beautycounter // This balm is everything that loves my skin rolled into one. After doing a pretty intense “elimination diet” so to speak for my skin, I found that my skin loves jojoba oil, shea butter and sunflower seed oil. This balm contains all of these things and other great things! We use it for extra diaper help, chapped lips, dry patches, inside my nose (TMI?), an extra boost for eczema hands, etc. It’s truly a wonder. I got it at the tail end of my breastfeeding journey with Em and it was a lifesaver for chapped nips and TOTALLY safe for baby mouths. Recommend 10 out of 10!
  5. Beautycounter Calming Diaper Rash Cream // Beautycounter //  This is new to my arsenal, but it worked literally overnight. We tried a new “clean” brand of diapers and my daughter’s bum did not like them. This cream + the daily balm above cleared it up literally overnight. IMG_0049
  6. Honest Company Diaper Rash Cream // Target // Amazon // This has been my go to diaper rash cream (think zinc) for years. I also think it smells like Fruit Loops and I love that about it. Weird? Probably. Pleasant? Definitely. We keep one of these in the diaper bag and one of the BC tubes upstairs. A great, clean, safe choice if you’re at the store and need something for your baby’s bum.

October Eczema Awareness month. Read more about it on the National Eczema Association website here: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-awareness-month/.

Comment below with any questions, shoot me an email or message me on Insta!

Our Summer in Photos | 2018

What a summer! It’s officially fall and we are currently in the mountains of North Carolina getting the first glimpse and feels of the fall breeze and I am 100% in my happy place (minus two points for a congestion and cough). I’m using this weekend as an official transition into FALL and we have big plans to get home, wrap up some home renovation projects and then I have my eyes on a DIY fall wreath project which has me feeling giddy in the most basic white girl crafty wife mom way.

Back in my one-kid days I documented and regularly posted our “everyday” photos but things have been super busy around here since Emmeline Joy joined us (16 months ago…) and while I’m hanging in with the documenting (somewhat), posting regularly is clearly not my forte… right now, anyway!

Easing back into a little bit of a slower season work wise and kicking it off with a recap of our summer in PHOTOS! Like, one hundred photos in a blog post. I’m pretty sure that’s too many. But some highlights:

• We celebrated Emmeline’s first birthday • Emmeline took her first steps • I taught summer school online • Lincoln went to day camp at the YMCA • We spent countless summer evenings and weekday mornings at the Y pool • We took our first road trip to Tennessee (me, ever!) and spent several nights in a hotel as a family of four • during our trip to TN we celebrated the beautiful life of Marshall’s grandma Joy, got to visit with cousins, aunts and uncles and had a date night in Nashville • I took the kids to Pullen Park and Lincoln hated the boats, but they tolerated the train and loved the popsicles • Countless mornings in the sandbox in our front flowerbed • Lots of playdates during the week and some weekends with incredible friends • a family trip to Marbles kids museum on a Thursday • Em started cutting molars and hated us and life, but really likes her new toothbrush • Buzz Lightyear jammies and Superman shirt on repeat • I rented a Sony DSLR and then bought one a month later • Our first trip to the beach as a family of 4, I still haven’t had a Britt’s donut and we all got sunburned • teeny tiny ponytails • one million diaper changes • so many carseat naps • a blue and pink hydrangea bush for a brief time in the front yard • the end of the 2s class in preschool • our best friends from CO and Winston Salem came to see us (and I can’t find the memory card) • so many snacky dinners • Sundays at church serving as a family of four •

Man. I loved this summer 100000 million times more than last summer. Not to hate too much on last summer, it was just really hard with a newborn and new toddler. This summer was just so much more fun. I’m so aware of only having eighteen summers. 3 down already with Lincoln, two down with Emmeline… it’s all going so fast. Kids of Mine: if you’re reading this in the future, please know that while sometimes you drove me completely crazy, I truly love every minute of being your mom. Please don’t ever leave me. K thanks.

Our Favorite Daddy

This man. Like lots of girls, I entered adulthood projecting all kinds of life experience onto God, viewing him through the lens of my earthly father. I was blessed with a hardworking dad, but he’s human and has his shortcomings like we all do, and I definitely attributed some of his qualities to my Heavenly Father. When this guy became a dad, it forced me to question my dad perspective and to really examine the qualities I had “seen” in God. A few weeks ago we visited Elevation Ballantyne, the “mothership” and broadcast location for our church in Raleigh, and they played this beautiful song from Hillsong church, ‘I am who you say I am“. By the first chorus I was totally undone, realizing the flawed way I had been viewing my Father’s love for me. Who the son sets free oh is free indeed, I’m a child of God, yes I am! In my father’s house, there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes I am! I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who you say I am. You are for me, not against me, I am who you say I am!”

How God views me is not contingent upon my behavior, obedience, good deeds that I do, or nice things I say… his love is unconditional and simply is because of who I am: his child.

So on this Father’s Day, thank you to my wonderful husband, who in spite of his shortcomings loves our children, and me, unconditionally just because of who we are are. You make me a better mom, a better person, a better everything. Thank you for pointing me to truths about myself and our life when it’s tempting for me to believe the lies. You are my greatest gift. You’re always a hand squeeze away, willing to load the dishwasher, change the diaper, trim the nails, dress my wounds (more than I can count) and hug it out. You’re a dream come true.

Thank you for making me a mom. I like to say that the kids did, but really, it was you. Happy Father’s Day!

Monday Adventures (Alternate Title: Why didn’t I get coffee this morning?)

Today I looked in the mirror (it wasn’t a mirror, it was selfie camera on my iPhone) and I barely recognized myself. The one year old was screaming “AAAA DA” (all done) in her crib, my three year old was napping in sheets that totally had pee on them from the night before and I just shoved a couple of Fauxreos into my mouth and washed them down with blue Gatorade.

Eating paleo? Nope.

Clean house? Nope.

Work done for the day? Nope. 

Laundry caught up? Nope. 

The baby stopped screaming so I got suspicious. I should have suspected asleep, but instead I suspected suffocation, climbing out of the crib or some other general naughtiness. I quietly crept into her room to watch her little cherub self sleep and as soon as the door opened she shot right up and I hit the floor. I mean, I literally dropped my body to the floor and tried to hide from my one year old. She peered over the edge of her crib and said “Haaaaaaiiiii. Ma. Ah da.” And then started jumping up and down whining and demanding that I hold her.

So for those of you at home judging me because we haven’t sleep trained, the score is now Emmeline 386, Mama 0. In my defense, I did let her cry it out one day for nap while I showered and I came to her room to find vomit all over the crib, wall and floor. It’s possible she had a “stomach bug” but I think I know the truth. She cried so hard she puked. Because that’s my girl!

Exciting times here lately.  I thought the husband was staying home to wrangle kids today while I worked. He thought he was going to work to… work. So I went in to this week at a mental disadvantage. But seriously, these kids push me to my boundaries of sanity, cleanliness and joy on a daily basis and I LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT. There are definitely seconds that I wish would pass quicker than others, but these are definitely the days of my dreams. Cheerios and all.

YOZO: Second Time Mom Life is My Best Life

Second time mom life is my best life. It’s also the craziest life I’ve ever had, but I vividly remember the weight of the Anxiety Elephant that lived on my chest during the first year with Lincoln. I was always so paranoid about everything. Everything. Diapers. Wipes. Diaper rash. Germs. Paci. Sleep crutches. SIDS. Solids. Purees. Wake times. Just, all the freaking “wake times” and “dream feeds”.  Second kid though? The Elephant is ABSENT!

Y’all let’s do Target diapers!
Sure, she can sleep in bed with us!
Formula at night? PLEASE.
Oh you’re six months, here’s a banana!
Here, I can’t find any toys, play with this plastic Tupperware.
Oh, you don’t want to nap? That’s fine, we have stuff to do anyway.
Oh you dropped your paci on the floor at Target? Here ya go. *does nothing*
Oh you actually don’t like the paci? No problem. *breastfeeds everywhere anywhere all the time*
Bedtime? What bedtime? Let’s keep her awake because she’s so cute and I barely saw her today!

Maybe I’m just perpetuating the Second Kid Has No Boundaries thing (hi, I’m a second kid and I can tell you.. I STILL live for loopholes), but honestly I am enjoying this baby addition to our life 27492919182617x more than I enjoyed Lincoln. And I really enjoyed him A LOT, even within the parameters of baby schedules and such.

Also, ask me how fast Lincoln grew up. It was a blink. I blinked and he was weird colored, screaming at me fresh out of the womb and then I blinked again and he was three years old and counting the cars on the car transporter truck from the backseat window. Correctly. Counting, like with numbers. Who the eff taught him numbers?!?

So, after a few months of trying to get her to nap on a schedule and to eat on a schedule and play on a schedule, and show me sleepy cues after the appropriate wake time and whomp whomp whomp, I asked myself: What if I allowed myself to just enjoy her on her terms? Instead of stressing the heck out all the time because she doesn’t sleep or eat at the right times. And yes, there were “right” times she could sleep or eat. For example, when Lincoln was napping or having lunch or at preschool. ANY of those times would be great for a nap, Emmeline. Instead she chose choice letter D: None of the above.

We’ll sleep train eventually, she’ll eat meals with us eventually, and sleep through the nigh eventually. After all, you’re only zero once. YOZO.

*These photos are from the day she was feeling 100% better after a nasty run in with Roseola. Probably from the lack of Paci Washing and Tupperware Teethers. Should also mention that I really don’t have time for Mom Guilt the second time around. Futher evidence of The Best Life.

Forty One and Two

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It was forty one weeks and two days ago that I was forty one weeks and two days pregnant with the sweetest, spunkiest, loudest little red headed girl that I’ve always known. Lately I like to watch her play with her brother, and I just imagine me as a little girl, a teenager, a college girl, a newlywed… I’d daydream and imagine what my life would be like, and what my kids would be like. I look at Lincoln and Emmeline and just imagine God smiling at those thoughts of the Younger Mes, knowing that they would be the most fun, perfect for me and adorable in every possible way. It was always them. It was especially always Emmeline. She has been tucked in my heart for as long as I can remember. Every roll, every reddish hair and eyelash and invisible eyebrow. She is the the red cherry on top.

At nine months old she is fearless and demanding. She loves to make us smile and acts just so goofy at times. She dances, loves music and truly embodies her middle name, Joy. Just making eye contact with her across the room is enough to make her whole body wiggle, a chuckle erupt and her little nose scrunch. She tries to walk and doesn’t seem to remember that she can’t, even after falling face first on the hard floor several times a day. She will yell and swat at Lincoln if he takes her toy or gets in the way, and if he stays too close for too long she’ll pull up on him to standing. This is especially entertaining because he knows that if he moves she will fall and then cry and he doesn’t want to get in trouble for making her cry, so he just stands there and yells for help…

I am in a place where I know, like I know, I am slacking in some areas. Some important, some not-so, but I am not slacking in the loving my babies department. I am snuggling, hugging, singing, dancing, walking, playing trucks, tickling, kissing 110%. Like, I am all in. I was made for this. I’m exhausted out of my mind and pushed to new physical, mental and emotional limits on the regular, but man. This is the good stuff.

Before I had kids, I think I thought the biggest trial of new motherhood was losing the baby weight. Like, really. I think I thought you were pregnant, had the baby, life was normal (just with a baby now) and you worked as hard as you could to lose the baby weight as fast as possible. I heard someone say that it was important to give yourself grace because it took nine (10. It took TEN) months to grow that baby, so it may take nine (DIEZ) months to go back to your pre-baby size.

So, I don’t know about all that baby weight nonsense because once these jokers were out, the LAST thing on my mind has been what size pants I wear. Partially because I only wear leggings now, but also because there are SO many other things that I need to spend time and energy on. Like these kids want to eat… always. Laundry is spilling out from all the corners of my home. I also like, work and stuff. Both times I’ve also dealt with some pretty intense health stuff myself, so how much I weigh? Do not care. Do not know. Do not want to know. Also, if a health professional asks me how much I weigh, I will tell them how much I weighed when I started college.

Real life, though. Nothing is the same after having a baby. After Lincoln I remember being so upset with Marshall for just going back to work like it was no big deal. For me I felt like NOTHING was the same. My body, my skin, my brain, my days, my nights, my time– what I could eat, drink, etc. Literally this child had changed every single thing about my life in one foul swoop. BAM. Life completely altered.

And then, a few months passed and then a few more months passed and then  suddenly I looked up and realized that we had done it. We had made it through, and while nothing was the same as before, it was the same as the day before and the pattern continued until it felt normal. It happened around this time. Lincoln was around eight or nine months old and I just remember feeling a little less insane and less like being in survival mode all the time. It did not occur to me then that it had taken almost the same amount of time of gestation for me to get used to him on the outside, but it totally was around the forty week mark.

The number forty is used somewhat frequently in scripture so I did a little digging just to see what the deal was with God and that number. He’s all about some numerical significance. Forty symbolizes a period of testing or trial. And if the forty weeks of pregnancy and the forty weeks that follow does not fit that perfectly, I do not know what does. Tests and trials ABOUNDING. The thing that is cool about the forty thing, is usually after the period of time of the trial, something really cool happens after. Noah in the Ark forty days and nights– and bam! Waters recede and there’s a fresh start to humanity. And also rainbows. Moses hung out on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights and received laws from God– a pretty big deal to Judaism and subsequently, Christianity. Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness and by the end of it, foreshadowed his ultimate victory over Satan by resisting him completely when he was really hungry during that time.

I don’t  know. I’m all  about the numerical significance, too. Just doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me that human gestation is forty weeks. That is a time of trials and tests for sure, and what follow is truly incredible.

Speaking of numerical significance,  this is probably my most favorite thing. So I was overdue with Emmeline. 10 days. I was due April 30 and she came May 9th and that last  stretch was a crazy emotional roller coaster. So a few weeks after she was born I was driving around and noticed the oil change sticker on the inside of my car had 5/9/17 on it and I was super confused as to why we got an oil change on Emmeline’s birth day (It is also worth noting that it is not very often that I am the one to take a car in for an oil change, because I don’t know what the dates on the stickers mean). In my sleep deprived newborn stupor, I called Marshall and he explained it to me and I laughed OUT LOUD because for weeks “When is the baby coming?!” was basically the only thing we ate, slept or breathed. We obsessed over every contraction, every potential sign of labor, everything. Literally in my car, in my eyeline that I saw every single day was her birthday. It was right under my nose the whole time. So hilarious. Nothing’s a coincidence! We are handpicked. Oil change stickers and all.

March Goal Type Things

HEY MARCH YOU’RE LIKE HALF OVER.
Y’all life is crazy busy. And this fun blog is the first thing to go when life gets busy. Between work, growing a human, wrangling the two year old human, shooting A LOT at church and for friends this month, getting a cold and sleeping a little extra… I’m behind. But I’m catching up today. So BLOGSPLOSION. Here are my goals for the (rest of) the month! I actually tweaked these since I originally wrote them the first week of the month because some of the stuff there’s NO WAY I’ll actually do it. So let’s be realistic, shall we? Set ourselves up for some success 😉 
  • continue bullet journaling 
    • I love this thing. It’s the perfect planner for me and my brain. 
  • share some of our “minimalism” changes here on the blog
    • We are just getting started on our minimizing journey, it’s been a process getting us to this perspective, and we certainly aren’t “all in” or “all there” but the changes we’ve made so far have improved our quality of life TREMENDOUSLY (mine especially). Excited to share some of what we’ve learned so far. 
  • eat #moreveggiesinmarch 
    • Last year we did this with my pal Lauren and it was SO hard but so good and my goal last time was crazy. This time, I’d rather set a small goal and shred it everyday– I’m at that point in my life/pregnancy where I just want to feel good about myself and my choices. I’d rather eat 9 servings on a good day and 3 on a bad day and still end up meeting my goal. No shame. 
      • 3 servings a day, roughly one a meal. 
  • make “HOME STRETCH” to do lists 
    • There are literally hundreds of  little things I need to do to prepare for this baby to come for work (eep). Make a massive work prep list and home prep list for logistics so I don’t forget anything! 
  • complete Foto February Challenge 
    • and blog it, and finalize my changes for next year!
  • hit my “homestretch goals” every day
    • 4k steps a day
    • 2 liters of water a day
    • greens everyday 
    • “chill time” 30 minutes every day 
    • write scripture daily (memorizing Philippians 2:1-16 for my egroup! So far I’ve got 2:1-4 down, working on 5-7 today!) 

Jessica + Kevin | maternity

In preparation for a sweet little newborn session this weekend, I realized I haven’t shared these beauties here just yet. This girl is one of the sweetest in the world. She was the Spanish and Technology teacher at the elementary school where I worked for two years before/while Lincoln was born before I had the honor of having that sweet job. I love looking at the giant web of how all that came to be.
I was teaching high school and I was burning out– fast. I was teaching three levels, coaching cheerleading (and driving an activity bus, y’all…), in charge of a couple clubs, doing course development online nights and weekends… I was ready to get outta there. I needed to sleep.  I wanted a change of pace in lower grades and had interviewed a few places, but none close enough to our house for me, so I premeditatedly called in sick to work one day to drive around and pass out résumés. I stopped by Meredith College to see one of my professors and she happened to mention in passing that an almost graduate had been offered a Spanish K-2 position but didn’t want it— WHAT?! –and it was at the school where my husband worked– WHAT?!? I promptly left that conversation, called my husband, who called the HR lady, who got my résumé moments later, and then I had an interview by Friday and was offered the job on the following Monday. Holy whirlwind.
Meanwhile, a recent Campbell grad was interviewing for HER dream job (my job, that I had resigned from without having another one lined up…). She is now teaching all the Spanish, coaching cheerleading and engaged to the basketball coach. Adorable and so happy.
Meanwhile, the Meredith grad that didn’t want the K-2 job  had also interviewed for a high school position that she wanted elsewhere and was waiting to hear back from there before she said “no” to the K-2 position. Spoiler alert: she got the high school job, worked it for several years and now lives  in Colombia happily ever after.
Meanwhile, Jessica had been trying to leave the Spanish K-2 position to go to a regular classroom position but the administrator wouldn’t let her until they found a replacement (me, excitedly since the Meredith Grad had recently turned it down).
What a crazy web of Spanish teachers and classroom dreams, huh? I had the joy of getting to know each of these girls individually during that season, and it was the coolest to see how it all unfolded and how we all ended up where we wanted and needed to be in that season. Ultimately, K-2 was a good job for me at that time, but really my heart of hearts is in momming my kids and the high school crowd. My sarcasm and wit was wasted on the K-2 demographic, although teaching them how to use iPads was and will continue to be a top five in my list of favorite life experiences. Those kids were amazing.
All that to say, I just love stories like this where it’s so clear. So, so, so clear that God’s hand is in this with us. He’s orchestrating and moving and introducing us to people that may change our lives forever, and in the midst of all that he really does have our interests, hopes and desires close to his heart, just like they are close to our own. It was a good lesson for me to never ignore the nudge of the Holy Spirit, and to go out on a limb because you never know what crazy awesome plans require that first step– in my own life and potentially in someone else’s.
Jessica, it is an honor to know you and to have been your successor in the K-2 Spanish/Technology classroom! Your students, Kevin, and sweet Lyla Kate are so blessed to have you as their Mrs. Gray, wife and mama. So excited to photograph little LK this weekend!
These pictures are some of my all time favorites. It was a wintery, wintery cold gray day but we braved the birdwatchers at Yates Mill and I could not love these memories more. What a sweet time, preparing for the first baby! So thankful to be a part of their story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Because | Steph + Ben

So, being a mom is tough.  Figuring out what your place in the world is is tough. Finding balance in the tension of being a mother and having a career is tough.

Lincoln was a newborn when I resigned from my teaching job for the coming school year. I was supposed to be excited to have the opportunity to work from home and be with my baby all the time, but it was such an unfamiliar thing I was really not as thrilled as I thought I would be when I signed my resignation letter. There was so much unknown and comments made by co-workers and friends (“oh it must be so nice to be able to stay at home….”) that made me think I was surrendering a hardworking life for a glorified maternity leave– except permanent. 

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I remember tearfully telling Marshall… ”—but I don’t want to be just a mom! I thought there was more for me!”  I felt like I needed to start a business, write a book, do something big. Little did I realize at the time, that raising that tiny person into a  full grown human being is one of the biggest things I’ll ever do. It’s not glamorous. It doesn’t gain a lot of followers. There’s a lot of poop, boogers, squashed bananas in places there shouldn’t be squashed bananas, and lately, singing the songs to Frozen more times than I’ve ever wanted to (that’s my own fault– who showed him Frozen? Me. I did.). It’s taken time, almost two years, and I can’t say I don’t wonder what it would be like to still be working in a school (versus a virtual one) or running a business or writing a book, or going “viral” or whatever, but more days than not I find my heart and soul to be very content doing what I was designed best to do: be Lincoln’s mom. Most days, I kinda rock at it. Not in a perfect, make-all-the-right-decisions way, but in that I recognize the weight of what I’m doing. It’s big. I don’t love it twenty four/ seven, but there are moments– many of them– when the joy just catches me by surprise and I thank God that this is where he put me, even though I was reluctant. There are some freaking hard days, but there are really great days too. And those hard days aren’t all bad, just hard. Getting to this place hasn’t been easy (actually, it was the worst summer and subsequent six months of my life adjusting) but it’s been so worth it, and my perspective on everything is so different. I could not be more grateful. (If you aren’t familiar with my postpartum depression/anxiety/eczema explosion story you can read it here and my thoughts on being “just a mom” here). 
Okay, enough about my experience and exploiting a friend’s beautiful photos to share my thoughts on the complexity of mommy societal expectations. Another day, another post… 

Not to quote the title of my blog but this girl and I? We are handpicked. Like, from day one God had us in mind to be friends. We met in 2013 when Marshall and I visited our first small group at The Summit. We bonded over photography, our love for chocolate pastries and Paris, coffee and kitchen aid mixers, like all in the first 10 minutes of meeting each other. The rest is history. We didn’t know it at the time, but we had lived in the same neighborhood, literally down the street from each other, and then they moved out to the country but were still within a reasonable driving distance from our house. This lady loves so selflessly. The way she serves her husband and family is admirable. She’s like me, into a little bit of everything. We love music, crafting, Jesus, leggings, coffee, photography, etc. Samesies. 
She and her husband worked their booties off the first year and some of Ben’s life to pay off their debt so she could be at home with him and pour all her time into her photography business. In December she celebrated her last day of her day job and is officially a full time mama and small business owner and I asked her if I could come over and document this sweet time and transition. It’s hard when you’re in it to see how sweet it is. These photos are just so special and remind me so much of me and my own sweet boy. There is something so magical, just so so so magical about those everyday things. Making coffee. Playing trains. Eating breakfast together. Reading books. Getting dressed. Diaper changes. Some days its so monotonous, but before you know it they’re reading their own books, feeding themselves and NOT throwing it on the floor (right? RIGHT?!), and using the potty (or so I’ve heard). It’s hard adjusting to the slow life and being on toddler time, especially when you’ve been going 1,000 miles an hour and accomplishing more things before the sun is up than some people do all day…. for most of your life. 
But this girl? She rocks it. She rocks being Ben’s mama. He’s the sweetest little kid in the whole world (even compared to my own) and loves to snuggle and show affection, and I just love it. Even to me. Gives me hugs every time he sees me. Every time! I just love him and could eat him up! Now that she’s more flexible during the day we get to see each other a lot (like once a week!) and it makes me so happy. It’s like a promise fulfilled on so many fronts. I was so lonely and lost and confused in those early baby days, and begged God for community. Every time we see each other is just such a big reminder of God’s faithfulness in his timing in the big things and in the small. Thank you for having me over (ahem– letting me invite myself over) Steph and Ben! It was such a joy to be part of your morning.